LOS ANGELES (CNS) – Sen. Dianne Feinstein from California, who was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1992, has died at her home in Washington, D.C., her chief of staff confirmed today. She was 90.
Feinstein was the senior senator from California and one of the first
two women elected to the U.S. Senate from California.
“Dianne Feinstein, right from the start, was an icon for women in
politics,” former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told ABC News.
Feinstein was the first woman mayor of San Francisco and the first
woman president of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.
She was born in San Francisco on June 22, 1933, and graduated from
Stanford University in 1955.
She was elected to the U.S. Senate for the first time in 1992, joining
“Sadly, Senator Feinstein passed away last night at her home in
Washington, D.C. Her passing is a great loss for so many, from those who loved and cared for her to the people of California that she dedicated her life to serving,” James Sauls, chief of staff to Feinstein, said in a statement.
“Senator Feinstein never backed away from a fight for what was just
and right. At the same time, she was always willing to work with anyone, even those she disagreed with, if it meant bettering the lives of Californians or the betterment of our nation.”
President Joe Biden said in a joint statement with first lady Jill Biden that Feinstein was a pioneering American. “A true trailblazer. And for Jill and me, a cherished friend.”
“In San Francisco, she showed enormous poise and courage in the wake of tragedy, and became a powerful voice for American values. Serving in the Senate together for more than 15 years, I had a front row seat to what Dianne was able to accomplish. It’s why I recruited her to serve on the Judiciary Committee when I was Chairman — I knew what she was made of, and I wanted her on our team. There’s no better example of her skillful legislating and sheer force of will than when she turned passion into purpose, and led the fight to ban assault weapons. Dianne made her mark on everything from national security to the environment to protecting civil liberties. She’s made history in so many ways, and our country will benefit from her legacy for generations,” Biden said.
“Often the only woman in the room, Dianne was a role model for so many Americans — a job she took seriously by mentoring countless public servants, many of whom now serve in my administration. She had an immense impact on younger female leaders for whom she generously opened doors. Dianne was tough, sharp, always prepared, and never pulled a punch, but she was also a kind and loyal friend, and that’s what Jill and I will miss the most.”
U.S. Congressman Ted Lieu posted on social media that “California and the country lost a barrier-breaker and an icon.”
“Through grit, grace and incredible intelligence, she succeeded in politics at a time when few women could. She paved the way for a historic number of women to have a seat at the table and a voice in Congress,” Lieu, a Democrat who represents the 36th District in Congress, posted on social media.
“I am grateful to have known Senator Feinstein. It was an honor and a privilege to have worked with her on many issues impacting Californians — including helping our veterans. She had an incredible career guided by a love of our country and American values. We’re a better nation because of her leadership. I join her family, friends and our country in mourning her.”
U.S. Congressman Robert Garcia posted on social media “Senator Dianne Feinstein was an icon who represented California valiantly throughout her career.”
“Her legacy of progressive leadership on LGBTQ+ rights forged a path for a more equal country. She was a hero to our community and I’m incredibly saddened by this loss for our nation,” Garcia, a Democrat represents the 42nd District in Congress, posted on social media.
Sauls called Feinstein a force of nature.
“There are few women who can be called senator, chairman, mayor, wife, mom and grandmother. Senator Feinstein was a force of nature who made an incredible impact on our country and her home state.
“She left a legacy that is undeniable and extraordinary. There is much to say about who she was and what she did, but for now, we are going to grieve the passing of our beloved boss, mentor and friend.”
U.S. Congressman Adam Schiff said Feinstein’s legacy is unmatched.
“Today, the nation has truly lost a giant of the U.S. Senate, California has lost its trail-blazing leader, and I lost a real friend and mentor. Senator Dianne Feinstein was one of the finest legislators we have ever seen, and her accomplishments made our country and world a better place,” Schiff, a Democrat who represents the 28th District in Congress, said in a statement.
“Senator Feinstein single-handedly pushed an assault weapons ban over the finish line, and never gave up her fight to end gun violence. She fought powerful agencies to investigate and uncover torture — and made sure it would never happen again. She helped protect California’s natural beauty and preserve its lands for generations. And she always fought for LGBTQ rights and women’s equality throughout her career.”
Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass said in a statement she was saddened by the passing of Feinstein and called her one of the nation’s great leaders.
“Senator Feinstein was a trailblazer on whose shoulders I, and women in elected office all across America, will always stand. She worked harder than anyone I knew on Capitol Hill, and she will be remembered as one of the most effective and impactful Senators in American history,” Bass said.
“Senator Feinstein’s grit and heart enabled her to bring her city together after she was thrust into San Francisco’s mayor’s office in the wake of a horrific tragedy. She saved countless lives through her work to keep assault weapons off of our streets, and she was a patriot who boldly stood against the use of torture and, in doing so, reminded America what we are supposed to stand for. She loved all of California, and led landmark legislation to create Death Valley National Park, Joshua Tree National Park and protect millions of acres across our desert landscape representing the largest effort to protect public lands in the lower 48 states.”
Bass said the flags flying at all city facilities will be lowered to half-staff in memory of Feinstein.
“May her memory be a blessing, as her life certainly was. I extend my deepest condolences to her family and to all who loved her,” Bass said.
Feinstein was the first woman to chair the Senate Rules Committee and the Senate Intelligence Committee. She authored the Federal Assault Weapons Bam in 1994. The legislation, prompted by the 101 California Street shooting where a gunman opened fire at a law firm in San Francisco’s financial district killing eight people, led to a 10-year restriction on the sale and ownership of certain semiautomatic weapons.
“I worked with Republican and Democrats alike,” said Feinstein in an interview with CSPAN. “Ten Republicans along with 46 Democrats voted in favor of the amendment.”
Feinstein was experiencing health problems in recent years. She was hospitalized with shingles in February 2023, when she was 89. That same month, Feinstein announced she would retire from the U.S. Senate when her term was up in 2024.
Feinstein was married three times and had one daughter, Katherine, from her first marriage. She married her third husband, investment banker Richard Blum, in 1980. They were married until his death from cancer in 2022.
Some of her more notable accomplishments in the U.S. Senate include creating a federal coordination of Amber Alerts, passing the California Desert Protection Act, which protected millions of acres of California deserts and created the Death Valley and Joshua Tree national parks, reauthorized the Violence Against Women Act and authorized the Respect for Marriage Act in 2022 to ensure marriage equality into federal law.
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